Obama camp responds to “redistribution” audio

The Obama campaign today is actually engaging the McCain campaign over audio which has surfaced, conveniently I might add, just 9 days before Election Day in which Obama sounds like he’s discussing redistribution of wealth from a legal perspective.

Report from Politico on the Obama camp response:

A top legal advisor to Barack Obama, Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein, said today that Obama’s 2001 remarks on “redistributive change” — pushed hard on the right today — are being misinterpreted, and that he was actually articulating “conservative” legal principles, and that the then-law professor’s “law-speak” was being misinterpreted.

Here is the audio the Obama campaign is responding to and the McCain campaign is trying to jump on:

More from Sunstein’s response:

“What the critics are missing is that the term ‘redistribution’ didn’t man in the Constitutional context equalized wealth or anything like that. It meant some positive rights, most prominently the right to education, and also the right to a lawyer,” Sunstein said. “What he’s saying – this is the irony of it – he’s basically taking the side of the conservatives then and now against the liberals.”

Another report on this from Boston.com:

Conservative bloggers and websites have been flogging it, and now John McCain’s campaign has put its imprimatur on it: a newly disclosed radio interview in which Democratic rival Barack Obama talks about the redistribution of wealth.

The interview, first reported by the Drudge Report, was with a Chicago radio station while he was an Illinois state senator on Sept. 6, 2001.

Obama is talking about the victories of the civil rights movement, and says, “You know if you look at the victories and the failures of the Civil Rights movement and its litigation strategy in the Court, I think where it succeeded was to invest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples so that I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order as long as I could pay for it I would be okay. But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society…. And one of the I think the tragedies of the Civil Rights movement was because the Civil Rights movement became so court focused I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change and in some ways we still suffer from that.”

The entire context of the interview isn’t clear, and the sentiment isn’t all that different from Martin Luther King Jr., who after the voting rights and other accomplishments of the 1960s civil rights movement moved toward greater emphasis on poverty and economic justice.

But McCain’s campaign is jumping on it as part of the assault on Obama’s remark to the famous Joe the plumber in Ohio that with America so economically troubled, it might be good to spread the wealth.

Amazingly the Obama campaign actually responded to this, I’m guessing because the McCain campaign began using it and trying to tie it to Obama’s current view on taxes.

Clearly given the polls, the McCain campaign is grasping at items like this as some kind of “October surprise” to spring on Obama. That being said, as mentioned above, the full context of the interview wasn’t known so there is much left to speculation.

This is still developing.. we’ll update if the situation warrants..